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2021 budget: Maritime agencies make conflicting projections to Senate

Senate to probe allegations by Supreme Court Justices despite CJN’s resignation

Senators were left in awe on Monday as revenue agencies in the maritime sector made conflicting projections for their internally generated revenue (IGR) for 2021 budget.

The conflicting signals came from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). The occasion was the IGR budget defence before the Danjuma Goje-led Senate committee on marine transport.

The managing director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman, in her presentation projected a lower revenue for 2021 but the executive secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, projected an improved revenue for his agency.

Usman had in her presentation based her submission on the Covid-19 pandemic and recession in the country.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s capital importation stands at $1.461m in Q3 2020

Besides, she said the cut in oil production by the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would further affect revenue.

But Bello, who defended his agency’s budget, said there was already improved activity at the ports.

This left the senators present wondering why two agencies with synergy were making contradictory projections.

Goje (APC Gombe Central) said “I’m not convinced but if you insist, I will leave you with your projection. We will hold you responsible if you happen to mislead the committee and there will be consequences.”

Bello, who stood his ground, said he had data to back his claims. He added: “The projection of the Shippers’ Council is based on actualisation of the advanced cargo information system, which will give us a lot of revenue.

“We also think there will be improvement in cargo delivery especially our import will improve because we are exiting recession in the second quarter.

“Already you could see volumes coming because we are taking the competition from our rivalry ports. I’m very optimistic that we will meet the projection that we have projected.

“The whole budget for 2021 is N17 billion. What we had before (2020)/was N14 billion, so there is an increase of about N3 billion. We are ready to do that.”

Responding, James Manager (PDP Delta South) said: “We have received conflicting signals from NPA and Shippers’ Council, we must take it seriously.”

He asked for commitment from the NSC boss, who gave June as the target.

“Our results would have manifested in the first to the second quarter, “Bello said.

Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) said the NSC boss should be given time to prove his mettle for seeing a positive in the challenging time. He said the situation would prove whether some civil servants were economical in their projections for the country.

Meanwhile, the NPA MD lamented that the agency incurred more than a billion naira loss to vandalism during the recent #ENDSARS protests in the country.

According to her, N807million had been earmarked for rehabilitation of the burnt portion of the agency’s building. This, she added, was different from monies to be spent on replacement of 27 vehicles set ablaze by the vandals and three other stolen vehicles.

In his own presentation, the managing director of National Inland Waterway (NIWA), George Moghalu, informed the committee that the N3.9 billlion budget estimates proposed for the agency in 2021, will be primarily implemented towards upscaling the development of inland water transportation in Nigeria.